Blog Posts What B2B Companies Need to Know Before Expanding to B2C

The business-to-business ecommerce forecast calls for robust growth. In fact, U.S. B2B ecommerce sales will reach $1.8 trillion and account for 17% of all B2B sales in the US by 2023, according to a report by Forrester Research.

As more and more B2B companies add a B2C sales channel, many struggle to deliver a satisfactory customer experience in an online environment. One common misstep: relying on traditional order fulfillment practices.

In order to make the move from B2B to B2C, companies need to fine-tune their fulfillment operations to meet the heightened expectations of end customers. Saddle Creek’s new ebook explores five critical considerations for making a seamless transition.

Following is an excerpt from “Expanding from B2B to B2C: A Guide to Effective Ecommerce Fulfillment”:

5 Ways Ecommerce Fulfillment Differs from B2B

B2B companies often assume that they can simply utilize the fulfillment practices they use for B2B orders when selling directly to consumers. They are mistaken. Here are five key differences:

1. Different order profile

B2C orders are usually lower in value and higher in volume than B2B orders. Instead of shipping pallet loads of products, it is more common to piece-pick a high quantity of single orders.

As a result, ecommerce orders are typically more labor intensive – requiring two to three times the labor  needs of traditional warehousing operations, according to commercial real estate firm JLL.

Accommodating B2C orders also may require a more sophisticated facility design. To increase storage density and maximize picking capacity, ecommerce warehouses often boast features such as higher ceiling heights, narrow aisle widths, and strategic racking systems.

2. Faster turnaround times

Amazon continues to raise the bar for fast delivery times. While most consumers are not demanding next-day deliveries, their desired delivery window is certainly tightening. To accommodate these escalating expectations, B2C orders generally need to ship the same day they are placed.

Getting B2C shipments out the door faster requires more manpower as well as expanded use of automated fulfillment and material handling solutions.

Since ecommerce orders tend to be small package shipments, some companies choose to locate DCs in central locations like Fort Worth, Texas, and Lexington, Ky., to make it easier to tap into small parcel services.

Moving closer to the customer also can help to achieve faster, more cost-effective transit. With two or more strategically located DCs, companies are able to utilize lower-cost, two-day ground service.

Some companies move value-added services like kitting, labeling or engraving closer to the customer as well for faster customization and personalization.

For three more ways that B2C fulfillment differs from B2B – and how a 3PL can help, read the ebook.